Peripheral neuropathy is a medical condition that arises due to damage or disease of the nerves carrying messages from different parts of the body to the brain and spinal cord. It often causes numbness, weakness and pain in different parts of the body. It mostly affects the hands and feet.
People feel a tingling or burning sensation when they suffer from peripheral neuropathy. The loss of sensation may feel similar to wearing a glove or stocking. Peripheral neuropathy may happen due to infections, traumatic injuries, exposure to toxins, metabolic problems and such other causes.
In general, peripheral neuropathy symptoms get better with time. This is from if the condition is a result of some underlying condition that can be treated. Different types of medicines are available for reducing the painful symptoms of this medical condition.
Symptoms of peripheral neuropathy
The peripheral nervous system present in the human body sense information from the brain and spinal cord or the Central nervous system to different parts of the body and back from those organs to the Central nervous system.
Peripheral neuropathy may affect different nerves –
- Sensory nerves which receive different types of sensations like pain, touch, and heat et cetera
- Autonomic nerves which is a needed for controlling different functions such as heart rate, blood pressure, bladder function and digestion.
- Motor nerves that control movement of muscles.
Most commonly peripheral neuropathy begins in the longest nerves. These are the nerves that reach the toes.
The symptoms of peripheral neuropathy vary a lot depending on the type of nerves affected. The most important signs and symptoms of peripheral neuropathy include-
- Onset of tingling and numbness in the feet or hands. Slowly, it may spread upwards to the legs and arms.
- Burning pain
- Extreme sensitivity to touch
- Sharp, electric like pain
- Change in skin, nails and hair
- Lack of coordination
- Weakness of muscles
- Heat intolerance
- Bladder, bowel and digestion problems
- Change in blood pressure and lightheadedness and dizziness
Types of peripheral neuropathy
Different types of peripheral neuropathy are present, which result from different causes. It is common, especially in the age group of 55. About 3 to 4% people in this age group are affected by peripheral neuropathy.
The classification of peripheral neuropathy is done depending on the problems they cause or the cause of the damage.
If there is a damage to the single peripheral nerve, then the neuropathy is called as mononeuropathy. The most common causes of such type of neuropathy are physical injury or trauma. Pressure on a nerve for a long period and then longer periods of sedentary lifestyle or continuous and repetitive motions may result in mononeuropathy.
Carpal tunnel syndrome, which is a common problem, is one type of mononeuropathy. This happened due to overuse of your hands on the computer keyboard. This is known as overuse strain injury. The nerve running through the wrist is compressed in this case.
Polyneuropathy is the most common type of peripheral neuropathy. If multiple peripheral nerves in your body start to malfunction, then it may happen. Different causes can cause polyneuropathy including alcohol abuse, exposure to toxins, poor nutrition, vitamin B deficiency, complications resulting from cancer and kidney failure et cetera.
Causes of peripheral neuropathy
Several different factors may cause peripheral neuropathy. The most important causes are-
- some rare inherited diseases
- Poor nutrition or vitamin deficiency
- different types of cancer and chemotherapy for treating them
- Conditions in which nerves are mistakenly attacked by the body's own immune system.
- Conditions in which nerves are damaged by a overaggressive response to injury
- Certain medications
- Kidney or thyroid disease
- Infections such as Lyme disease, shingles, or AIDS
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